January 26, 2017

Students, faculty make Ryan Center for Business Studies a ‘home’

Faculty and staff gather in the Palmisano Atrium to celebrate the opening of the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies. (Photos: Stew Milne)


The Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, the newly opened home of the Providence College School of Business, has “everything we need to be playing in the big leagues,” said the business school dean, Dr. Sylvia Maxfield.

The center, which opened for undergraduate and MBA classes on Tuesday, Jan. 17, was formerly Dore Hall, which served for decades as a residence hall. Completely renovated, with the addition of a two-story atrium designed to function as study and collaboration space, the center includes a finance lab, 10 classrooms, three conference rooms, high-tech collaboration rooms, a career education office, a 125-seat auditorium, an information resource lab, faculty offices, and a café. Its design is clean and modern, with glass and exposed brick.

“We love the building,” said Dr. Christine E. Earley, professor of accountancy. “There was a jubilant atmosphere the first day. The faculty are beginning to understand the possibilities of what they can do with the space. I’ve seen professors from other disciplines holding meetings here with their students, and at night, the students have really taken over the conference and collaboration spaces.”

At a ceremony welcoming faculty and staff to the building, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 called its realization “God’s providence for us.”

“We’re finally not renovating space built for something else, but building something for our students and for our faculty,” said Father Shanley. “Because fundamentally, learning is a collaboration between students and professors, and the space enables the collaboration.”

Father Shanley said visitors who enter campus through the new gate at Huxley Avenue and encounter the business center have the same reaction: “wow.”

“That’s the reaction that we get a lot here,” said Father Shanley. “People, when they drive onto the campus and see this building, are going to go ‘wow.’ It’s given us a sizzle and a kind competitiveness that I don’t think we’ve ever had before.”

Dr. Hugh F. Lena, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, acknowledged widespread support for the building’s construction from alumni and the campus community. He thanked the architect, SMMA of Cambridge, Mass.; the builder, Dimeo Construction Co. of Providence; and the building’s benefactors, Arthur F. Ryan ’63 & ’90Hon., and his wife, Patricia, who provided the lead gift for its construction; Robert J. Palmisano ’66, for whom the atrium is named; and Kevin C. Phelan ’66 & ’15Hon., for whom the outdoor courtyard is named. A formal dedication honoring the benefactors is planned for Saturday, April 29.

Maxfield said the building is “home.”

“We talk about having a new home for the community of folks dedicated to a business education that’s deeply and uniquely integrated with the liberal arts,” Maxfield said. “This is so much more than a building.”

The building’s theme — inspired by Dominican tradition — was “a town square,” Maxfield said, and it was designed with faculty and staff input. The atrium is designed for collaboration, which means “discussion, learning together, questioning assumptions with respect and empathy, and arriving at shared understandings.”

Students gather for class in the finance lab, which features a Bloomberg terminal for tracking markets.

Alexander MacIsaac ’17 (Quincy, Mass.), a finance major, wasted no time in using the building for networking. MacIsaac was scheduled to meet an alumnus, Mark T. Kane ’99, a senior vice president at Atlantic Trust in Boston. When Kane proposed having coffee in Slavin Center, MacIsaac suggested the Ryan Center instead.“I told him, ‘We can meet at the School of Business,’” said MacIsaac. “We did, and he was amazed.”

MacIsaac has class in the finance lab, which features a Bloomberg terminal allowing markets to be tracked in real time. Whenever he has free time between classes or in the evening, he likes to hang out in the new building. The Eaton Street Café, open seven days a week with a late-night take-out window, is becoming a welcome resource for students, especially those who reside on the East Campus and off Eaton Street.

“It’s a great place to meet friends,” said Conor Adler ’17 (Winnetka, Ill.). “The café has a great cheesesteak.”

In his remarks, Father Shanley said he noticed a student on campus carrying a copy of Beowulf for a Development of Western Civilization course, and immediately thought, “Beowulf and business — that’s the unique proposition that we offer.

“In these four walls, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to be successful out in the world, but you’re also going to read Beowulf, you’re going to read Dante, you’re going to encounter Thomas Aquinas,” Father Shanley said. “You’re going to become that kind of rounded individual who can be successful in the world, but more importantly will be successful in life, and living a life that turns out well.”

School of Business Dean Dr. Sylvia Maxfield and College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 with the cake for the opening celebration.